Friday, December 17, 2004

The mole is Bonnie

It's a no-brainer, really. Bonnie is the only one whe sees most everything that I see. And she is close friends with Claire, Dan's secretary. They talk several times every day.

I don't mind that she tells Claire things, or that Claire tells Dan. In fact, I am proud that communication works so well between the two offices.


I love Christmas shopping.

I love taking in the festive holiday ambience: The strings of shimmering tiny white lights, wrapped around every guard rail and light pole, the green prickly wreaths that hang from doors and windows, the Christmas music that plays endlessly from wall-mounted Bose speakers at the mall, the snow that (hopefully) blankets the ground on Christmas morning.

After Christmas dinner at my house, the men would gather in the family room, and the women in the kitchen. There was a mixture of calm and euphoria as we kids played with our new remote-control cars or video games.

In the late 70's, when mom was sober, she used to make a kick-ass apple cobbler, with loads of cinnamon. She made it every Christmas. The apple-cinnamon smell would waft out of the kitchen and down the hall, making me salivate like the wolf in the old "Three Little Pigs" cartoon. By the time it was ready, I would gobble it down while it was still so hot that it burned the roof of my mouth.

It is these images, the lights, the wreaths, the cobbler, the toys, that come to mind most every time I hear the word "Christmas". I didn't have a great childhood, so I treasure these happy memories very much.

I am in such a holiday way right now that I won't even be cynical about how there are only ten or so Christmas songs that every b-list artist and has-been insists on rehashing for us, so that, starting the day after Thanksgiving, we are treated to 3,341 versions of "Jingle Bell Rock" and "White Christmas".

I find the Pretenders' version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to be particularly egregious. The holidays are supposed to be happy: Why the hell does Chrissy Hynde [the lead singer] sound like someone stabbed her in the ass with a candy cane? I've heard "Amazing Grace" sung at funerals with more joy.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite Christmas songs:

1. "Last Christmas" Wham
2. "Do They Know It's Christmas" Band-Aid
3. "Wonderful Christmas Time" Paul McCartney
4. "Happy Christmas (War is over)" John Lennon
5. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Star of Wonder" Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
6. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Frank Sinatra
7. "White Christmas" Drifters
8. "Please Come Home for Christmas" Eagles
9. "12 Days of Christmas" Bob and Doug MacKenzie
10. "Santa and His Old Lady" Cheech and Chong (not a song, but hilarious)
11. "I Saw Three Ships" Sting
12. "Gabriel's Message" Sting
13. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" U2
14. "Something About Christmas Time" Bryan Adams
15. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" Nat "King" Cole

It happens most every year: Suddenly, the realization dawns on me that It Is Christmastime, that I have made it through another year, and that there is some relaxation and quality time with family and friends to come. I'll see people I haven't seen in awhile. There will be smiles, and laughs, old music and TV shows that bring back memories of 8:00 bedtimes and sleepless nights spent watching the clock on Christmas Eve. There's a spring in my step that comes with the knowledge that I'll wake up on the morning of the 25th and find a few surprises for me, and I'll surprise a few people, too. It's fun!

Some years the realization never hits me. This year I was driving along, and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Nat King Cole came on my iPod. And just like that, the chilly holiday air hit me in a different way somehow, and I was in the Christmas spirit.

I have to find a gift for Stephanie. She's been great to me, caring and supportive, yet at the same time not smothering. I really want to make this work with her. I want to show her how lucky I feel for having this chance.

Gift-giving is a production of sorts: There is a right and a wrong way to present your gifts. You have to build drama. Suspense.

You start with minor gifts, like the undercard bouts at a WWE wrestling exhibition: You're not bored, but it's not what you came for, either. You finish with a crescendo, the gift that will make her eyes pop. Buy her the electric can-opener she's been bugging you for, sure, but make her open the wide-screen TV last.

I know for sure I am buying her a car stereo. Her car only has a tape deck, and even that doesn't work right. And when your stereo has knobs instead of buttons, people, God is trying to tell you something.

I hate buying junk. If there are three car stereos of the same brand, I'll probably end up with the most expensive one. Why buy a cheaper one, when there is another right next to it with more features?

I'm a fast shopper. If I walk into a store, it's because I am looking for something specific. I don't "browse".

Saturday, December 4.

I go to Circuit City and decide on a really nice Sony CD player for her car, buy it, and leave in less than 10 minutes. The thing's got a remote, too, which I never understood. You're sitting two feet away! Why do you need a remote? I guess it's for when you are getting horizontal in the back seat and Ozzy Ozbourne comes on the radio.

But then again, "I Am Iron Man" would be strangely appropos, wouldn't it?

The stereo was $300. It's her "warmup" gift. It's Wilson Phillips opening up for Madonna. Now for the hard part: What the hell else do I buy her?

I am leaning towards a choker chain and matching thumb rings. I'll keep thinking...